How Space Can Affect Education

Experts agree that there is a particular psychology involved in the creation of a successful education environment. When designing a classroom, there is a slew of considerations to take into account that can affect how well students retain information and pay attention in a given space. Of these factors, there are three main components that determine the psychological impact a classroom might have on its pupils:


First, any environment – whether it’s within the walls of a traditional classroom, or beneath a tree outside – is full of physical characteristics that can be seen and touched. It’s easy to forget this, but students are constantly immersed in environmental information which can easily distract from the curriculum being taught.

Active Learning

Second, students are active learners. Because they are constantly absorbing the information around them, it is easy for them to be overly bombarded with information. When this overload happens, it can adversely affect the quality of learning.

Emotional Impacts

Lastly, there are often emotional impacts of a learning environment which can have cognitive and behavioral effects. For instance, if students feel safe and comforted within a classroom, they are likely to become emotionally bound to the space, which can increase their zest for learning within it. The opposite can be true if students feel awkward or anxious in a space – their ability to successfully learn can decrease dramatically.

Furthermore, there are more specific factors of design that are often responsible for inhibiting education – things like poor lighting, extreme temperatures, and loud environmental sounds. But what sorts of things can improve the design of a space to foster successful learning? What qualities contribute to the education in a classroom?

This question comes with a slightly more complex and vague answer because individual people receive information so differently, and are also motivated differently. One of the things that a recent study discovered, though, is the importance of active student engagement, which they based solely around the simple reconfiguration of a classroom’s seating. Another study found that active learning environments that incorporate technology into both the space and curriculum garnered significant increases in test scores, when contrasted against those of a traditional classroom. Despite the results of these analyses though, researchers agree that there is still a significant amount of work to be done on the study of learning spaces.

Overall, even design elements as simple as innovative seating or integrated technology can go a long way in creating an environment that stimulates students’ attention. Other factors- such as lighting- can also contribute to students’ information retention and creativity, but the success of such designs can be a particular challenge without the knowledge of how people learn. By knowing and understanding the specifics of how a space impacts all of this, designers and educators can collaborate to create productive and welcoming learning spaces.

Be sure to check out recent educational spaces designed by Desmone Architects.